Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Politics of Culture, Two Weeks on Two Wheels

By Matt Maddocks. I’m heading out for a much anticipated 2 week solo motorcycle excursion to the east coast, two weeks on two wheels. On my way I plan to take the back roads, taking in the feel and culture of the small towns I stop at along the way. I’m hoping to get some small sense of these towns, talking to folks about the local issues they face. I have an interest in how others get by in their day to day lives, engage in their communities and the roles they play.

Two Weeks on Two Wheels

One of the reasons I find municipal politics so engaging is the “hands-on” factor; here in Aurora each one of us has several means of direct access to our policy-makers. We can affect change, and help shape the way our town functions and grows. But occasionally I find myself becoming so self-immersed in the issues facing Aurora, that I forget why I actually enjoy following local politics. It’s truly about the people, the ones really in control of our town and its business. It’s important to remind ourselves that our elected representatives are just that; nine Aurora citizens who were chosen to represent and follow the direction administered to them by the electorate. It’s for that very reason that we maintain and exercise the right to elect an entirely new group every 4 years, if we feel the current council is not fulfilling that mandate. That is our duty as Aurora taxpayers, and every so often I come across a story that reminds me of this important role we play, or more accurately, the role we sometimes forget is ours.


A few days ago I read that the Stouffville Arts Centre, the “Lebovic Centre for Arts & Entertainment – Nineteen on the Park”, is about to announce they will posting a profit this year, after only 3 years in operation. Stouffville Mayor Wayne Emerson had predicted a five-year timeframe for the 3.8 million-dollar renovated facility to break even, so the news that a profit will be shown two years earlier than predicted is a surely a testament to the hard work, dedication, and smart business savvy of the Stouffville centre’s board of directors.

Here in Aurora, our arts centre has been the subject of much controversy, issues which have clouded any potential good news regarding its finances. The fact that the Aurora Cultural Centre’s very existence relies heavily on the free use of a town building and significant taxpayer funding, may actually be an impediment to any chance it has to showcase its true success as a business. Highway signage and grand pianos aside, I have yet to see any tangible indication that the Aurora Cultural Centre is a successful business venture. The sense of pride and accomplishment within the Stouffville board would I imagine, be something the Aurora board would love to embrace. In my opinion, cutting the cord provides the best chance for the Aurora Cultural Centre to truly grow and flourish. But in order to have that chance, our current council has to find the fortitude and strength of will to deliver on their oath and act in the best interest of the Aurora taxpayers.

So off I head, to investigate new towns and new issues. I’m hoping to gain and grow a perspective that will help me better understand and shape my views back here in my home town. If nothing else, it may just help me grow in my appreciation of the great people who make up Aurora, many of whom I am fortunate and proud to call my friends. Cheers.

Matt Maddocks
Aurora, ON 

[1] Leslie Street, South of Wellington, Town of Aurora, ON; July 2011, Photography by Anna Lozyk Romeo.


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